The Fake


I’ve often heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  But is that true?  Do we really want to be like someone else, or do we want the end result from the other person being who and what they are, without walking the trail that got them where they are?

Consider the case of Wolfgang Beltracchi, who along with his wife are currently serving time in a German prison for selling fine art Masterpieces.  Not just a few, but hundreds of works by various master painters, all authenticated by well known experts and sold by the major auction houses to collectors the world over.  Many of the pieces of art were thought to be some of the very best works of the masters.  So what is wrong with that?

Well, old Wolfgang didn’t find them in a lost collection like he portrayed, instead he painted them himself.  For the last thirty years or so he has been passing off his work as lost masterpieces by very skilled use of techniques that make canvas, wood, even the fasteners of the frames look old.  As long as people believed the paintings were genuine, they paid millions to own them, but when the scam came unraveled, they simply owned cheap imitations that nobody wanted.

What an incredible waste of talent and loss of opportunity to be a real master painter.   When questioned about why he did this, he replied that it takes time to be discovered and he liked to be rich.  Although it is easy to sit back and castigate Wolfgang for what he did, I do not see him as very different from most of the American Christian clergy.

The Clergy, ministers of the gospel, pastors, evangelist and teachers, all stand before the community at large as proclaimers of the Gospel.  But do they proclaim the Gospel, or do they give us facsimiles that seem reasonable, that sound right and make us feel good?  Regardless of their backgrounds or accomplishments, unless they have become disciples of Jesus themselves and are following His teachings in their own lives, they will inevitably proclaim a gospel that is based on human reasoning instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.   

Our quest then becomes finding a spiritual leader who is the genuine article, someone who walks in the Kingdom and teaches us how to become disciples of Jesus and how to make others His disciples.   If you buy into anything less, you will have just purchased a cheap imitation that does nothing to change your life.

Rev 3:18   I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Kennady’s Enigma

Anyone who has ever attempted to have a relationship with Kennady, my granddaughter, understands it is an interesting proposition, frustrating at times but oh so rewarding when you do connect.  Having been born without the majority of her brain, she doesn’t talk, or walk, or do any of the normal things eleven-year-old girls do.  However, I have noticed that when I sing to her or pray with her and God’s presence fills my soul, she immediately lights up with that wonderful smile that then turns into a laughter that grabs me somewhere around my heart, and God, Kennady and I share a moment of pure delight.

There is no guile in Kennady, no self centeredness, nor evil of any kind.  While her body has more problems than most folks can imagine, her soul exists in the same state Adam and Eve did before the fall – complete innocence and purity.  Her dad and I have been contemplating the state of Kennady’s soul and how it fits within the framework of theology.  As most people know who read his blog, he is our pastor and spends a lot of his time studying the Word of God, so I’m usually trying to catch up with his thinking.  This time the issue is: since we are all shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin, where does this leave Kennady? 

Although the debate continues (feel free to put your two cents worth in) we have concluded that God is just, and righteous, and perfect and will not expect any more from Kennady than He made her to be.  My take: even though the seeds of sin might have been in her from birth, (thanks Adam) there has been no soil for those seeds to grow.  

Now, if I can just find the doorway into the world where she exists, my soul will have communion with our Father just as she does.

The Matrix

Matrix – a substance, situation, or environment in which something has its origin, takes form, or is enclosed.

The Apostle Paul told us: “But the fruit of the Sprit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Gal 5:22-23)

It seems to me that the vast majority of modern American Christians profess one thing but live something else.  How can this be when Jesus message was so simple and direct?  I think they are on the wrong side of Calvary, living in the realm of fallen humanity, but believing they are in the Kingdom of God.  Calvary, that place of death, is a mandatory stop on our journey to the Kingdom, but very few want to die. 

Like the people who existed in the movie called The Matrix, there is a pseudo life most are caught in – a dreamlike state wherein a person buys into the mantra of the religious hawkers and accepts symbolism as substance.  It is closely akin to the old story of “The Emperor who wore no clothes”.  If enough people say something is real, there is credence given even if there are no results.

Jesus said:  “Many are called but few are chosen. “ These few have died to this present world and surrendered totally to God’s will.  His Spirit is in control of their existence and they live, and move, and have their being in the Kingdom of God.  This world is not their home and they anxiously await the day they can physically join Jesus in eternity.  They have left the Matrix behind and spend their remaining life trying to rescue as many souls as possible from the grip of the Kingdom of this present world. 

It’s easy to find these people, not by what they call themselves or how they look, but by their fruit.  What follows in their wake as they walk through life is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  These are the chosen few who walk in the Kingdom.


Time to abide

For some reason my mind does crazy things.  Today it decided that there is no such thing as time.   Yes, I wear a watch, and sometimes I actually consult it, but is it really telling me anything? Time is simply change in the physical universe, or as the dictionary says:  “a continuum which lacks spatial dimensions and in which events succeed one another from past through present to future.”  Our mind has memory of past moments, and constructs models of possible moments to come, but it is not possible to live in either of them. No, the only point at which we exist is this present moment. 

Jesus said “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.”  That word “abide” means to cling to, endure, remain or wait for.  We can only abide right now, this present moment.  Wouldn’t it then follow that we should never do anything else but abide in Him?  Every moment of our life, every action or process we take, every aspect of our existence should be abiding in Him, and His words abiding in us.

Jesus also said “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”  If we are to seek the Kingdom first, and the only time we can exist is this present moment, how can we seek anything else?  Does it seem there are things that need to be added to your life?  Then seek only the Kingdom, and God will take care of the rest.

You’re probably wondering how to abide in Him or seek the Kingdom when the boss is pressuring you for production or the kids are falling apart over the cereal.   For myself, I stay cognizant of the fact that God is with me; indeed He is within me right now.  How big the right now is depends on how much pressure there is.  For those times when life is mellow and flowing, my awareness covers a large span of moments, but as events ramp up the point gets tighter and sharper.  Since I’m abiding in God, He and I get more compacted, and when the door bell rings, it is He who answers, not me.

Time?  What’s that?  I’m just hanging out with my Lord.

Religion vs Spirituality

As the old-timers used to say, I’ve had a burr under my saddle for a while now about this subject.  How much of what we do is out of tradition and ritual, and how much is genuine spiritual merging of our soul with His presence?  Our recent trip to the Holy Land did nothing but exacerbate the issue as I observed the pilgrims paying homage to the various sacred locations in the ornate church buildings.  That many were greatly moved was evident from their expressions and tears.  It hit me also in one spot, the cistern where Jesus was held while waiting for His trial.  Jesus had physically touched that exact spot and it gave me connectivity to the whole story. 

 Jesus came castigating the Scribes and Pharisees for their requirements of observing the minutia of the Law and disregarded the Sabbath rules of no work.  He repeatedly stressed that the letter of the law was not as important as following Him.  On the other hand, he told the people to obey the leader’s teaching, just not to follow their actions.  He also was a devout Jew who followed the class system of that day and told the Canaanite woman she was a dog.

 How much of our modern Christian experience flows from the human tendency to worship the procedure, or observe routines from habit?  Do we actually live and walk in the Spirit, or do we practice religion and say it is the same thing?

 So where is the line between these issues, or is there a bigger picture wherein religious practices undergird our spirituality?  Do we need the one to have the other?  The spiritual disciplines of fasting, prayer, community worship, solitude, and all the other practices that a healthy child of God observes, are crucial to our walk in the Kingdom of God.  But I wonder what Jesus thinks of the concept of religion today – that attending church , singing three songs, making a donation and listening to a sermon meets all the necessary requirements.  I did those things all my life but it sure did not make me spiritual.